Al fresco dining in Delhi in COVID times: Restaurateurs hope this will become a reality soon

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Taking a cue from international eateries reopening amid the pandemic, Delhi restaurateurs now plan to offer al fresco dining to make guests feel safe and comfortable, provided they have the go-ahead from the authorities. After the standing committee of South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) approved the proposal to allow open air dining at South Delhi restaurants on Tuesday, restaurateurs are now hoping that they would be able to offer outdoor dining by the end of this month or early next month, at least in areas that come under SDMC – like Aerocity, Nehru Place, Greater Kailash and Defence Colony. The proposal, approved by the standing committee of SDMC, now needs the final approval of the House. The House meeting will most likely be held by the end of this month, say representatives from National Restaurants Association of India (NRAI), who approached SDMC in June to allow them the use of rooftops and open air dining. “Once the proposal is approved in the House meeting, all those restaurants (that come under SDMC) that have the NOC from the fire department can start al fresco dining,” informs restaurateur Priyank Sukhija, who has been representing NRAI in all meetings with the civic body.

After SDMC gave the final nod to outdoor dining, restaurant owners also plan to request New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) to allow open air dining at restaurants. “We have already had two meetings with NDMC officials and have requested them to allow restaurants to use their rooftops and open areas for dining. In the last meeting, we were told that once SDMC clears the proposal, NDMC will also take steps in this regard. We are now hoping that as soon as we have a final go-ahead from SDMC, NDMC will also allow al fresco dining. It is the need of the hour. After we have suffered huge losses due to the pandemic, al fresco dining will make our guests feel safe and allow us to use our premises for better seating while practicing social distancing norms. Also, it will be odd if restaurants in half of the city are allowed open air dining, while restaurants in other areas like Connaught Place and Khan Market won’t have that option. So we are hoping that after SDMC, NDMC too will approve our proposal for open air dining. We are soon going to have our next meeting with NDMC,” says Priyank.

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